Article: 178437 of talk.bizarre From: email@example.com (Evolve or Perish) Newsgroups: talk.bizarre Subject: just a token Date: 1 Dec 1994 08:28:18 GMT Organization: The Garden of Arcane Delights Lines: 34 Message-ID: <firstname.lastname@example.org> Summary: how about something on a lighter note? Keywords: shaggy dog Status: O I was fully aware of all the unsavory associations when they asked me to cut off my finger. My family conjured images of Yakuza initiations and mob battles, warned of other tests I might have to pass. But had I know of the madness to follow, I still don't think I would have hesitated. And despite the horrors I endured (and committed), I still believe I made the right choice. You see, I've always been something of a quitter. Unable to finish anything, always vacillating between one choice and another, never able to resolve or commit myself to anything. Spineless, really. So when they called, when they wanted *me*, here, I thought, was a chance to redeem all the things I had left undone. Here was something to which I could devote myself, at last here was a *direction* for my life. That I had had to mark my body, give up a piece of myself, merely symbolized the depth of my committment. Plus, a small voice reminded me, once marked I was branded for life; there would be no turning back even if my resolve failed. And so it was with a glad heart and only a tiny bit of dread that I entered the meeting room. As I placed my left hand on the cool slate and took up the knife with my right, I felt truly *right* for the first time in my life. And though my head swam with the enormity of what I was doing, I drew the blade through the second knuckle of my little finger with a straight assured stroke. And I did not flinch. This was, after all, the Graduate School at the University of Chicago. b r e t t -- "Of course it's fiction; everyone knows we get *branded*."